DETROIT — Scientists say natural and man-made threats to bats in Michigan could wipe out certain populations over the next ten years.
The threats include wind turbines, loss of habitat and a disease-causing fungus, The Detroit News (http://detne.ws/2dP64Zf ) reported.
“Those are the three biggies,” said Allen Kurta, an Eastern Michigan University biology professor and bat expert.
According to Kurta, the fungus that causes white-nose syndrome is the biggest threat the webbed-winged mammals face.
The fungus forces the animal to wake up from hibernation frequently. Infected bats use up their fat stores before winter finishes and starve to death.
“They’re under a lot of stress,” said Rob Mies, executive director of the Organization of Bat Conservation in Bloomfield Hills.
So far the disease has mostly affected bat species that hibernate underground or in caves, Kurta said.
In 2014, the disease was found in Alpena, Dickinson, Keweenaw, Mackinac and Ontonagon counties. It has since spread to 11 counties.
State officials say the five species most susceptible to the disease are big brown bats, little brown bats, northern long-eared bats, tri-colored bats and Indiana bats.
Kurta believes it’s a possibility a couple of the state’s bat species could be wiped out in the next decade by the disease.
“I think it is quite likely we will lose one or two species, particularly the northern long-eared bat, in the long run,” he said. “We could see it go extinct in the Northeast within the decade. No one I know is giving the species much of a chance.”
Information from: The Detroit News, http://detnews.com/